We're about halfway through 2013.
In the past six months, we've heard some wonderful music. There's been so much that I can't remember another time where it was so tough to pick the best music that's come out.
The second half of 2013 will have a tough time beating what came in the first half. I initially jotted down dozens of albums that I genuinely love, but I had to narrow it down to the following, which I highly recommend you give a spin.
And if you don't want to go sample or buy all of these albums, I created a playlist
The Thermals “Desperate Ground” (Saddle Creek)
Oh man. This album is a punch to the ribs. If you're in need for some fun, bouncy and dense punk rock riffs, this is your jam.
Frightened Rabbit “Pedestrian Verse” (Atlantic)
Textured rock 'n' roll full of rising and falling beats come together with Scott Hutchison's cutting lyrics for another excellent record from Frightened Rabbit. And though some songs are sad, there's something triumphant in Hutchison getting everything off his chest.
The Joy Formidable “Wolf's Law” (Atlantic)
Most of the album is like theme music to a sci-fi space battle, epic and soaring over all of our heads, but they also dip into acoustic soul-baring on “Silent Treatment,” the album's best track.
Matt Whipkey “Penny Park: Omaha, NE: Summer 1989” (Self-released)
Who wouldn't want to be 17 forever? I can't get enough of this album from local singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Whipkey. The rocking record is all of your youthful summer experiences packed into one hour, 21 songs and two beautiful pink vinyl LPs.
Free Energy “Love Sign” (Free People)
There's nothing quite as bubbly or fun as this album, which takes the best of '70s rock such as Thin Lizzy and the Cars.
Daft Punk “Random Access Memories” (Columbia)
My initial thoughts on the funky rock/dance collection from the French electronic duo were that it doesn't live up to the hype. The hype — piled high as Everest — remains insurmountable, but this album remains a solid listen.
Mount Moriah “Miracle Temple” (Merge)
I love the slow, southern rock of this record, especially the vivid imagery on songs such as “Younger Days.”
Johnny Marr “The Messenger” (Sire)
The former Smiths guitarist has returned with an excellent rock album full of his signature jangly riffs. He's such a confident singer that I wonder what the Smiths would have been like if he shared vocal duties with Morrissey.
Rogue Wave “Nightingale Floors” (Vagrant)
Though other critics didn't, I enjoyed the band's derided last album. Still, “Nightingale Floors” is a return to simple, shimmering indie rock.
They Might Be Giants “Nanobots” (Idlewild)
Sometimes, you want your favorite bands to keep making the kind of records that made you fall in love with them in the first place. They Might Be Giants didn't let me down with an album of power pop, ballads and their quirky songwriting skills.
Mikal Cronin “MCII” (Merge)
If you dig retro rock, Mikal Cronin has some jams that harken to a Buddy Holly era of pop-rock.
Waxahatchee “Cerulean Salt” (Don Giovanni)
The standout track here is “Peace and Quiet,” built on a simple four-chord progression and Katie Crutchfield's raw vocals. But don't stop there. The whole thing is great, front to back.
Vampire Weekend “Modern Vampires of the City” (XL)
Easily the band's best album, “Modern Vampires of the City” moves away from the percussive pop Vampire Weekend has been known for and toward a lush rock sound.
The National “Trouble Will Find Me” (4AD)
Another heavy rock album, “Trouble Will Find Me” doesn't deviate much from The National's past efforts, but it's still enjoyable.
David Bowie “The Next Day” (Columbia)
Where has David Bowie been for the last decade? Apparently, he's been expertly crafting “The Next Day,” which has a lot of the things that made you love Bowie in the first place.